"The UN’s Rome-based Agencies (the World Foood Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development) and Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) are combining their comparative advantages to increase their speed and effectiveness in helping isolated farming villages in northern Zambia get out of poverty and into business"
An RBA-MAL team visited the village of Chimpili in Luwingu district in April to talk to farmers about how best to get their produce from farm to market.
“In the 2014 harvesting season, the village lost 837 bags (4,185kg) of maize because we had nowhere to store it”“In the 2014 harvesting season, the village lost 837 bags (4,185kg) of maize because we had nowhere to store it,” explains Irene Musonda, ‘Purchase For Progress’ Coordinator in Chimpili. “It wasn’t even rats or insects. It just got wet in the rain and was spoiled”.
P4P is a programme run by WFP to buy grain from smallholder farmers for use in school-feeding programmes in Zambia or humanitarian operations further afield.
“This Agri-Business Centre will help us save every bag this year,” says Irene as she leads the WFP’s Director of RBA Relations, Mihoko Tamamura, inside a clean, new building with storage space for 500 metric tons of grain and a mill to process it.
In 2012, the village only produced 23 tons of beans. In 2014 they grew and sold 252 tons (worth 907,000 kwacha/US$200,000). This year they are aiming for 600 tons. By helping Chimpili’s farmers improve the quality and quantity of their harvests, P4P has in turn enabled them to benefit from increased economies of scale through ‘group marketing’.
With the German-funded Agri-business Centre now up and running, it is likely the village will have more to spend on education, healthcare, home improvements and transport. The village cooperative has even built a house which they rent out to the private sector.
To further improve the village’s links to markets, IFAD has secured funding to rehabilitate the 28 kilometre stretch of road that is Chimpili’s only link to the main road. The road is currently in poor condition and the cost of transporting crops along it considerably reduces the villagers’ profit margins.
FAO in turn will introduce their ‘Conservation Agriculture Scale-Up’ programme to the village to help increase the output and sustainability of Chimpili’s farms.
Mihoko, was happy to learn that the farmers have been getting good prices for their high-quality grain. She thanked the villagers for sharing lessons on how the RBAs can link WFP-demand, FAO-supply and IFAD financing to boost other viable, rural economies like Chimpili’s.